The UK’s 3 million family businesses are ahead of the field when it comes to entrepreneurship, continually innovating to pass on a thriving and sustainable business from one generation to the next.
By their very nature, UK family businesses, which employ more than 9 million people and generate a quarter of UK GDP, must have a long-term view: for family businesses, it is vital to both safeguard the longevity of the business while adapting to the changing climate.
For Campion Willcocks, a market-leading consulting and recruitment specialist for the financial services market, the family aspect of the business has been a lynchpin of its success since the company was founded in 1968.
“It’s one of the mainstays of our reputation. When I’m sitting across a table from a perspective client and I can look them in the eye and say: ‘This is my personal, professional and corporate reputation I’m putting on the line – if I don’t get this right for you, it’s me personally as well as my company that’s going to be embarrassed’,” says Mark Campion, executive chairman of the company founded by his father, David, in 1968.
He adds: “After all these years, that gives me that extra edge and makes me try that bit harder. Prospective customers like that accountability. It’s those eye-to-eye moments when the customer thinks, ‘yes, I hear a lot about reputation from big corporates and I believe this guy actually means it’.”
Mark Campion knows from experience that the stability of ownership of family businesses is key to growth. In its almost 50 years of existence, Campion Willcocks has eschewed radical changes for continuity while adapting to a changing climate. At the heart of a family business is a philosophy and approach with a broader appeal than other businesses.
For clients, the personal warmth and positivity is an added bonus of working with a family business, he says: ”It’s about the pride that people have of providing the best products or services. Nothing beats the warmth of people who care. And trust that people have in business that is family-owned and family-run.
“However, it’s essential for family businesses to have people who are non-family working with them because that’s how you revitalize the business: it’s how you bring in the expertise you need to grow and develop your business.”
Mark Campion points out that it is responsible family ownership rather than management that is key, with family members occasionally stepping back from the day-to-day management of the business to enable it to grow while directing the strategy and values of the company.
And family businesses favour employees. Campion Willcocks can count on several staff members who have been there for 10 and even 20 years.
For Campion Willocks, the company that supports leading organisations through change, the consistency of core family values is a hallmark of success.